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Sex Transm Dis. 1997 Mar;24(3):149-55.

Genital herpes in a primary care clinic. Demographic and sexual correlates of herpes simplex type 2 infections.

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Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle 98144, USA.



Genital herpes remains one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The sexual behavioral correlates of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection in the general population have not been well characterized.


To assess demographic and sexual behavioral correlates of symptomatic and subclinical HSV-2 infection.


Cross-sectional survey of 922 randomly chosen patients and 78 of their partners (1,000 total) in a family practice. Sexual behavior information was collected in 492 people.


Two hundred twenty-five (23%) heterosexual people had HSV-2 infection, but only 59 (26%) reported a history of genital herpes. HSV-2 seroprevalence was 63% in African-American women, 27% in white women, 40% in African-American men, and 12% in white men. In multivariate analyses of risk factors for HSV-2 infection among men, 10 or more sexual partners and a prior STD were statistically significantly associated with HSV-2 infection. Among white women, number of sexual partners, a prior STD, marriage or cohabitation, and less than a college education were predictive of HSV-2 infection. A history of oral sex was the only statistically significant predictor of HSV-2 infection in African-American women.


Risk factors for HSV-2 infection differ by gender and ethnic group. Traditionally recognized behavioral correlates of STD acquisition may not identify people in communities with high prevalence of HSV-2 infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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